Tuesday, November 18, 2008

America's First Black President

Barack Obama's election victory on November 4, 2008 was cool and all, but he's actually not the first black President of the United States. Here's the original:

The Prez, Lester Young, discusses his economic platform in "Pennies from Heaven," from a September 1950 Jazz at the Philharmonic film session.

He's joined by his cabinet:

Hank Jones - piano
Ray Brown - bass
Buddy Rich - drums
Bill Harris - trombone

Then, the "First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald scats with the group on "Blues for Greasy," along with Harry "Sweets" Edison on trumpet and Flip Phillips on tenor sax.

The film was directed by Gjon Mili, who also did the greatest jazz film of all time, Jammin' the Blues (1944).

Lester will always be my favorite president.


Jeff said...

Awesome vid. He's got my vote.

I need to plumb jazz further than I have up 'til now.

cowboyangel said...

Hey, thanks for commenting on the video, Jeff. I was disappointed that no one had. I was excited to find new footage of Lester Young, especially one that combined excellent cinema with great music. If you liked this, you should watch the other film from the same director that I posted a link to. He won an Oscar for that one.

There's a lot of great jazz to plumb. Lester and Billie Holiday and the early Basie orchestra (1936-40), when Lester was the first tenor, are all great things to listen to - particularly for someone like you who loves the blues. But there's so much out there that's really good.

Jeff said...

I've been mulling over a need to post about an interest in exploring jazz, mainly because I hate most new music, I'm tired of hearing all the same classic rock over and over, and all my favorite blues guys have passed on or soon will. Jazz always seemed a bit precious and self-indulgent to me, but I may want to rethink that.

Hey, before we had a president, we had a Duke and a Count!

cowboyangel said...

There's certainly jazz that could be called "a bit precious ansd self-indulgent." But there's so much that's not.

Actually, what amazes me is how much incredible and often beautiful jazz was created by people who were often scarred by racism and poverty, or went through hell in various ways. But it's a hard-won beauty, a beauty founded on pain. No easy street for these people.